Steady hands just take the wheel
Every glance is killing me
Time to make one last appeal
For the life I live
– Stop and Stare, OneRepublic
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
PCPD: Interrogation Room
Scott glared at Elizabeth and the recorder she’d brought with her after a brief pit stop. “I’m not taking your confession.”
Elizabeth turned her eyes to Mac, who looked a bit stunned at it all. “Then I’ll give it to Mac. And if he won’t take it, I’ll send it to the Port Charles Herald.”
“Scott…” Mac took a seat. “Maybe we should hear her out—”
“Damn it—” But Scott nodded. “Fine.”
“Before I start, I wanted to say something off the record.” She looked to Mac. “I could have told the world months ago that your daughter stole those pills from the hospital. You know that. I could have broadcast it—Lucky offered to.”
Mac’s face lost a bit of his pallor. “I—”
“The records would have matched—Maxie was a candy striper, and since she was having the affair, it would have made more sense for her to do it, to keep him interested.” Elizabeth tilted her head. “I never intended to do that, Mac. Because it didn’t serve any purpose except to wreck her life further, and I think Maxie’s had enough tragedy.”
Mac exhaled slowly. “Then why are you—”
“Because I intend to confess only to stealing and destroying that file,” Elizabeth said. “I won’t confess to the drug charges, but I didn’t want the reason on record.” She pressed a button. She was taking a serious gamble here, and this tape would either sink her or save her.
“When we met in your office last week, Mr. Baldwin,” Elizabeth began, “you took us on a trip down memory lane. You intended to use all of those previous incidents as proof I would do anything to protect my husband. You accused me of taking that file from the PCPD and destroying it. I did it. No one else knew, but I did it. I shredded it at the hospital, and went on with my life.”
“Why are you doing this?” Scott demanded. “Why are you letting Morgan protect his boss?”
“He doesn’t know I’m here,” Elizabeth said. “And I waive my right to an attorney. Neither one of them would approve of me being here. In fact…”
They paused because there was a commotion outside in the squad room. Mac stood and peered out the blinds. “Well, the cavalry has arrived,” he said dryly. “Jason and Sonny are here, my niece just barreled in after them with Diane. I guess we need to have Diane in here—”
“I don’t want to talk to any of them until I’ve finished my statement,” Elizabeth said. “Please go and tell them that.” She lifted her chin and looked at Scott. “There’s still a few things Mr. Baldwin and I need to sort out.”
Scott scowled, but nodded to Mac. “Let Diane know she’s waived her right to an attorney,” he muttered.
Mac pulled open the door and just managed to keep the crowd from rushing him. He pulled the door shut but not before Elizabeth met Jason’s anguished eyes.
“You’d rather send yourself to jail than an actual criminal,” Scott said, annoyed. “How does this even make sense?”
“Because you almost won, and I couldn’t let it happen.” Elizabeth smiled at him. She felt no panic, no anxiety. She knew Jason would be upset with her, but she was at peace with this decision.
She couldn’t let him pay for her mistakes.
“Jason tried to offer himself and you wouldn’t have it, so I know he was going to turn on Sonny.” She folded her hands in front of her. “And I couldn’t let that happen.”
“Oh, for Christ’s sake—”
“I’ve been in love with Jason almost since the day I first met him—the first time I really talked him and knew him to be more than my best friend’s brother and Lucky’s former employer. If you won, if he testified against Sonny, then maybe our life could go on. We’re married, and it’s a good marriage. He’s adopting my son, we’re having another child together. Maybe we could still be happy.”
“That’s all I’m trying to offer you, Elizabeth,” Scott told her. “A chance to keep your family together—”
“But one day, Jason would wake up,” she said softly, “and he would look at me, and he would resent me. And everything we built together would always be tainted.”
“Maybe if it had just been the drug charges, I could have lived with it,” Elizabeth said. “Those were a lie, and I think you know that. I think Ric knew it, too. But he wanted to use me. The way you’re using me. If it had been just the trumped up charges, maybe I could have seen it the way you do.” She tilted her head. “But I stole that file. And I got caught. I can’t let Jason or anyone else pay for my crime.”
“I’m not confessing just because it’s the right thing to do,” she continued, “I’m doing it because I can’t let my marriage be poisoned. If it’s going to fall apart, it’ll be because we don’t love each other enough to stay together. Not because he sent his best friend to prison because of me. You understand that, don’t you? I love him too much to let him do this.”
Scott scrubbed his hands over his face. “Hell. You’re really doing this. You’re really sitting in front of me with a tape recorder and confessing to charges that will put you away for at least five years, if not ten.” He looked at her. “How can you have a moral compass and still be with Jason Morgan?”
“Because, as I’m sure you’d understand, Mr. Baldwin, love doesn’t require rational thought and reasonable explanations. It just is. I love him, and I can’t let you ruin that.” She hesitated. “And I’m sorry that this ruins your plans. I know you really think you were offering me a good deal, that you were trying to do something nice. I am guilty, and you didn’t have to offer a get out of jail free card.”
She lifted her wrists towards him. “I’m ready to be booked.” And then lifted her chin in silent defiance.
Scott sighed, leaned over and pressed the stop button. “Put your hands down, Elizabeth. I’m not arresting you.” He handed her the tape.
Elizabeth accepted it, confused. “I don’t—I don’t understand.”
“I don’t want you,” he said. “But now I can’t force Jason Morgan to turn over his friend because you had to go and do the right thing.” Disgusted, he stood. “You’re right. I’m using you, and I tried to use charges I damn well knew weren’t true. I wasn’t going to charge the drugs, but I thought about it.” He turned away. “I want Sonny Corinthos behind bars, but I want to be able to look myself in the mirror while I do it.”
“Mr. Baldwin—” Elizabeth stood.
“And if I took your confession and put you in jail, if I put Jason Morgan in jail for trying to protect you—what kind of man would that make me? I’d be nothing more than what people see. I’d be a bully who cared more about results than justice.”
Her heart began to pound. “You’re going to let me go?”
“I am.” Scott turned back and met her eyes. “And you’ll give that tape to your lawyer, so if anyone ever comes after you for this, we’ll have to explain why we declined to press charges after you confessed.”
“But…” She frowned. “I don’t—”
“I don’t want you,” Scott repeated. “And there’s no justice in prosecuting you. So you can go.”
He pulled open the squad door and gestured for her to go in front of her. “Before your husband rips down the walls—”
Elizabeth blinked but went out, dismayed to see Jason and Sonny standing with Diane and Robin, all four of them looking angry, scared, and seriously annoyed.
“Scott?” Mac said, coming forward, his hand at his belt for a pair of handcuffs. “Are we taking her to Booking?”
“I demand to know what’s going on!” Diane cut in.
“Mrs. Morgan is free to go,” Scott announced. The room crashed into silence. “She’s cooperated fully with our investigation and I’m satisfied that she’s been cleared of all charges.” He cleared his throat and looked at her. “Thank you for your time, Mrs. Morgan. Have a nice holiday.”
He sent a dark look at Sonny Corinthos before ambling out of the room. Mac blinked, then hurried after Scott, ostensibly to demand answers.
“We should go,” Elizabeth said to Jason. “I’ll—I’ll explain in the car.”
No one said anything until they had made it to the parking lot, where a cluster of cars was haphazardly parked. “Elizabeth,” Sonny began, but she cut him off.
“Diane, you’ll want to keep this in my case file.” Elizabeth handed her the tape. “A bit of insurance policy if Scott ever changes his mind.”
The redhead took the tape, but pursed her lips. “I don’t know how you did it, but I’m going to demand answers at some point.” She slid into her car. “And I may seriously consider resigning after this debacle. I don’t know why I’m being paid if you’re not going to actually heed my advice.”
“We’ll catch up later,” Robin said. She hugged Elizabeth, then looked to Jason. “You just remember you tried to do the same thing before you get all huffy with her.”
“Goodbye, Robin,” Jason said blandly. “Cody—” He looked her guard. “I’m sure Elizabeth left you no choice, but if you could follow us back to the penthouse?”
“Jason—” Sonny began.
“I’ll talk to you later,” Jason told him. He looked at her. “Elizabeth and I have a few things to talk about.” His tone was almost empty, but a muscle was twitching in his cheek. She was in trouble.
She sniffed as she climbed into the SUV. He had some nerve being angry with her, when Robin was right—he’d tried the exact same thing only her plan had worked. And she’d tell him as much as soon as they got home.
Morgan Penthouse: Living Room
“Are you going to say anything?” Elizabeth asked. She drew off her coat and draped it over the back of the armchair. “Jason?”
He stood in front of the fireplace, staring straight ahead. He hadn’t spoken to her in the car, in the parking garage, or the elevator ride. When he still said nothing, Elizabeth started towards him. “Jason,” she said again.
This time he turned, but his face—it was unreadable. “Why did Baldwin let you go?” he asked, his tone even, even subdued. “Did you confess?”
“Yes.” Elizabeth twisted her fingers in front of her. “Not to the drugs—I told Mac before I started taping that I suspected Maxie had been involved but I didn’t want to put it on the record. But I told Scott I stole the file and that I destroyed it.” She hesitated. “I thought he might—he might turn away my confession, like he did to you. I thought he wanted Sonny more than he wanted me.”
Jason’s face was still set in that frustratingly blank expression. “And if he hadn’t?”
“Then I guess I would be cooling my heels in a jail cell.” Elizabeth sighed. “I know you’re angry with me—”
“I don’t—” He shook his head. “Angry isn’t the word.” He moved past her, toward the pool table. “Do you have any idea what you risked? You would have gone to jail, Elizabeth. For five, maybe more, years.”
“I know.” She followed him. “What about what you risked?” she challenged. “If Scott had taken you up on your confession, how long did you think he’d put you away for?”
“Doesn’t matter.” Jason shook his head swiftly. “It’s not the same.”
“He might have put you away for decades! Decades,” she repeated, her heart pounding. “The boys would have grown up without you. Is that what you were prepared for? To only see them once a month when I brought them to see you?”
“It doesn’t matter,” Jason said again. “You would have been with them—”
“Why isn’t what I did the same?” she cut in. “I wanted to protect you—”
“Because I’m the criminal!” he exploded finally, flattening his hand against his chest. “Not you! I’m the one who goes to jail! If you think I would have let Baldwin put you in a cell—”
“I committed a crime, too,” Elizabeth said softly. “Only I didn’t get away with mine.” She reached out to touch his arm but he slid away from her. “Jason, I couldn’t let you testify against Sonny.”
“I don’t—” Jason dipped his head. “I don’t know if I would have.”
“Don’t lie to me.” When he shook his head, she scowled. “You lied to me yesterday. You told me Diane felt optimistic, that she could make this go away, but that’s only because you were going to do it instead. Jesus, Jason, what did you think I would do when I found out?”
“I—” Jason looked away. “I don’t know. I hadn’t—I didn’t think that far ahead.”
“I would have been devastated.” She fisted her hands at her side. “I would have blamed myself. I would have hated myself for being the reason the boys didn’t have you, for being the reason everything we’ve built fell apart—”
“I would have been in jail for something I did,” he insisted. “Elizabeth, you’re only at risk because of me. Because of what I do—”
“What kind of life would we have if you were in jail for then next twenty-five years?” she cut in. “How could you think we’d survive—” Her throat closed, and she couldn’t continue. “Would you have divorced me?”
“I didn’t think that far ahead—” His eyes darted away. “Elizabeth—”
She closed her eyes, the tears building up behind her eyes. “Oh, God. You would have. You would have seen it as the right thing to do. You would have gone to jail for the rest of your natural life and divorced me.”
“He didn’t want my confession any more than he wanted yours, so why does it matter?” Jason asked. “Elizabeth, it’s not that I’m not glad you found a way out of this—”
“It matters,” she bit out. “Because I want to know what our future means to you, and if it means so little that you would have tossed it away—rather than me spending time in jail for a few years and moving past it—you wanted the option where you went away for decades and would have let me go.”
“No, that’s not—” He reached for her, but now she was the one to step back. “That’s not what I would—I wouldn’t want you to wait. It wouldn’t have been fair—”
“The legal troubles are over now.” She started to tug the rings from her finger, but her hands were slightly swollen from her pregnancy. “There’s no reason for any of this—do you think Scott Baldwin would even care if we got divorced—”
“Wait a second—” Jason’s hands closed over hers, preventing her from removing the rings. “I don’t want a divorce—Damn it, Elizabeth. I’m the one that’s supposed to be angry here—”
“Why?” Elizabeth retorted, yanking her hands back. “Because I stopped it myself? Because I fixed my own problems?” Her heart was pounding so fast, so loudly, she could almost hear it in her ears. “Do you think I was going to let Scott Baldwin use me to hurt you? To hurt your best friend? Why are you the only one who gets to risk their freedom? You would have walked away from me, from Cameron, from our child, so that you could be the one to save the day—”
“It wasn’t about saving the day!” He spread his hands at his sides, his face flushed with anger. “You destroyed that file for me! They came after you because of me—” He cut himself off and closed his eyes. “Elizabeth,” he said after a long moment. He opened his eyes and looked at her, his expression not quite so irritated. “The thought of being away from you and the boys—I hated it. All I want to do is come home to you. To be with Cameron, to see my son be born. But more than that, I wanted to make sure you could be with them.” He swallowed. “I love you. And I’m sorry, but I’m never going to want you hurt.”
Her vision dimmed for just a moment, and Elizabeth found it difficult to speak. “Could—” She cleared her throat. “Could you repeat that?”
His eyes were soft as his hand came up to tuck her hair behind her ears. “I love you. I’m sorry for not trusting you, for going to see Baldwin without telling you. I had to try.”
“I couldn’t let you turn against Sonny,” she whispered, as a tear slid down her cheek. “Not for something I did. It would have poisoned us. You would have looked at me one day, and saw everything you sacrificed for me, and you would have resented me—” She raised her hand, pressed her fingers to his lips when he opened his mouth. “Don’t say you wouldn’t have. I couldn’t risk it. I love you, too, and I just—I couldn’t bear losing you.”
Some of the tension bled from his shoulders as he exhaled slowly. He took her hand in his, kissed her fingers before drawing her against him. “This is our life,” Jason told her, “and we’re in this together. No more divide and conquer. I love you,” he repeated. “And I love Cameron and this baby. You just—you risked it all today. I—” He shook his head. “I was terrified, standing in the squad room, afraid Baldwin would bring you out in cuffs.”
“I’m sorry.” Elizabeth could feel his breath against her temple. “But I was terrified, too. When Diane told me you’d offered yourself, when I realized you were prepared to sacrifice Sonny, I could barely breathe.”
He looked down at her hand and straightened her rings. “I don’t want a divorce,” Jason told her, raising his eyes to meet hers. “Not today, tomorrow, next year. Not ever. I want our family.”
She laughed a little as he kissed her, his taste mingling with the salt in her tears. “Well…” Elizabeth murmured when he released her. “I guess Sonny knew what he was doing when he planned our wedding. Because, other than today, and I’m sure the births of my children—that was the best day of my life.” She slid her fingers through his hair. “Do you remember Robin’s reading that day?”
“Something about finding the right wrong person?” Jason asked, with a touch of amusement in his eyes. “Yeah. Why?”
“I didn’t know what I was looking for,” she continued. “Until everything in the life I thought I wanted fell apart. And I came to you. And you opened the door to me.” She tightened her arms around his neck. “I wouldn’t change a single moment.”
“Neither would I.” He dipped his head and kissed her again. “How much time do we have before we have to pick Cameron up from Carly’s?” he murmured against her lips.
“Oh…” Elizabeth smiled and tilted her head. “I think there’s enough time for that.”